Backstory: Total newbie regarding repairing cycles and the proper cycling terminology, so please take that into account.

Actual story:

I had a fall and the rear wheel started touching the brakes (non-disc), so I took it out aiming to remount it and as a final result I broke the quick release.

After a long walk home, went and bought a new quick release (the wheel has some nuts to some effect I'm not 100% sure about). I installed it according to this video (and also followed the "tight enough to leave a mark on the hand, but no tighter" rule I read about somewhere), seemingly aligned (in the middle between the frame). Now, I see two things:

  1. The wheel tilts sideways about 1/4" or a bit more, it's not fixed.
  2. When under load the wheel ends up either touching the brakes or directly the frame.

Thus I think that I'm either misinstalling the wheel, or that after the fall something else got broken or damaged.

The actual question is, how to find the actual problem (misinstalling the wheel or something else, or both) and its solution?

EDIT: Here's a video of how the wheel tilts, and another video of a possible culprit (damaged spoke). Could that damage explain the amount of tilting?

  • 1
    A photograph would probably help.
    – Tom77
    Aug 30, 2011 at 16:28
  • Just to verify: You broke the quick-release skewer or the handle or both? Did you break it when trying to reattach it or something else? Also, does your rear fork have horizontal dropouts? Aug 30, 2011 at 17:20
  • @Neil: I broke the skewer. And it broke while trying to reattach it. And it does have a dropout. Anyway I think I found out the problem, I've been reading about spokes, truing and rims, which I knew nothing about before. I'll edit with links to two videos showing the problem, to confirm the diagnosis.
    – Vinko Vrsalovic
    Aug 30, 2011 at 20:01
  • From the video it would appear that, while you were mucking with the broken skewer, you also mucked with the nuts on the axle, loosening the bearings. You need to take the wheel to a good bike shop and have them re-adjust the bearings. While they're at it they can check the loose spoke (which may or may not be a problem). Aug 30, 2011 at 21:50

3 Answers 3


It could be some spokes or the rim got damaged. You should try touching them to see if any is broken. If they are loose you should tighten them to align the rim. If you can't do it yourself a bike shop will do it for you easily. Broken spokes can be changed.


First off, get the bike up on a stand or flip it over on its back and futz with the wheel until it spins mostly free. Then turn it slowly while you observe the clearance between rim and a brake pad. The distance between the two should remain virtually unchanged (no more than 1/32" or so change) as the wheel does a full circle.

If the above clearance changes as you rotate the wheel then the wheel is warped and needs to be trued. This is something that someone with reasonable skill can do, but since you're such a newbie you should take the wheel to a shop to have this done.

If the wheel spins straight then it's simply a matter of getting the wheel properly centered and tight. Put the wheel into the dropouts, get the quick release snug but not quite tight, and assure that the axle is pushed all the way into the dropout slots. Then observe that one side (usually the derailer side) "bottoms out" first in the slot while the other side can go further, causing the wheel to twist slightly. Sight both sides of the wheel between the seat stays and move the not-bottomed-out axle in and out slightly until the space between the tire and both seat stays is the same. Then fully tighten the quick release.

I don't know where you got the "leaves a mark" rule for tightening a quick release, or how you're interpreting it, but the QR needs to be quite tight. It should take substantial pressure from the heel of your hand to close it. If you can close it with your fingers only (and you aren't a gorilla) then it's probably not tight enough. Better too tight than too loose!


This is definitely a case of loose bearings in the rear hub based on what I see in your video. Adjust the bearings before doing anything else. As suggested you should probably take it to a reputable shop for the bearing adjustment.

Assuming you take the whole bike into the shop for the bearing adjustment any reputable shop will make sure the quick release problems and brake/frame alignment problems are all resolved at the same time.


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